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German minister: Don't link Navalny with Nord Stream 2

Ankita Mukhopadhyay
February 7, 2021

Germany's economy minister says business projects should be separated from reactions to human rights violations. Germany has faced sustained criticism of its Russian pipeline project.

Russia's pipe-laying ship "Fortuna" is seen in the port ahead of the resumption of Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline construction, in Wismar, Germany
Germany has faced calls to kill the project in light of the attempted assasination and subsequent jailing of Alexei NavalnyImage: Dmitrij Leltschuk/Sputnik/dpa/picture alliance

Germany Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said Germany's reaction to the poisoning of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny should not be linked to the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, in an interview with a German daily published on Sunday.

"Business relationships and business projects that have existed for decades are one thing and serious human rights violations and our reactions to them are another," Altmaier told the newspaper Bild am Sonntag.

Altmaier's statement follows a remark on Friday by German chancellor Angela Merkel, who also warned against linking the two issues. It comes after Russia expelled German and European other diplomats, accusing them of taking part in 'illegal' protests against the jailing of Navalny.

Altmaier told the paper that contractors should move ahead with the construction of the controversial pipeline.

Nord Stream 2 will double the shipments of Russian natural gas to Germany. The US and several EU countries such as Poland oppose the project, stating that it will increase Germany's dependency on Russia for gas.

The controversial project is nearly finished. 

US President Joe Biden has described the pipeline as a "bad deal for Europe," and his administration is expected to impose further sanctions on the pipeline operating companies.